FLASH: THOSE WHO ARE POLITICALLY CONSERVATIVE/LIBERTARIAN ALSO HAVE CONSERVATIVE/LIBERTARIAN ECONOMIC VIEWS (AND ARE GENIUSES ZOMG)
That’s not the headline for this inane WSJ article about an inane poll, but it should be. The headline is instead, “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? Self-identified liberals and Democrats do badly on questions of basic economics.”
Consider one of the economic propositions in the December 2008 poll: “Restrictions on housing development make housing less affordable.” People were asked if they: 1) strongly agree; 2) somewhat agree; 3) somewhat disagree; 4) strongly disagree; 5) are not sure…
The other questions were: 1) Mandatory licensing of professional services increases the prices of those services (unenlightened answer: disagree). 2) Overall, the standard of living is higher today than it was 30 years ago (unenlightened answer: disagree). 3) Rent control leads to housing shortages (unenlightened answer: disagree). 4) A company with the largest market share is a monopoly (unenlightened answer: agree). 5) Third World workers working for American companies overseas are being exploited (unenlightened answer: agree). 6) Free trade leads to unemployment (unenlightened answer: agree). 7) Minimum wage laws raise unemployment (unenlightened answer: disagree).
Here they are, best to worst, with an average number of incorrect responses from 0 to 8: Very conservative, 1.30; Libertarian, 1.38; Conservative, 1.67; Moderate, 3.67; Liberal, 4.69; Progressive/very liberal, 5.26.
It’s wholly unremarkable that respondents’ political beliefs, which are often determined, or at least mutually reinforced, by their economic beliefs, are correlated with these answers.
The only question/answer I can’t quibble with is 4, which is a matter of semantics. The rest are contentious questions, some even within the mainstream. Question 5, in particular, would receive an automatic “strongly agree” from anyone working even loosely within the Marxian framework (which, by implication, is unenlightened). Some readers of this blog will be disappointed that there wasn’t a question reading, “Deficits are bad (unenlightened answer: disagree)”. Apparently that question is too settled to make the cut in this poll.
In any event, I don’t really have much else to say about this, just that it made my eyes bleed. I’m just going to hit “publish” so I don’t have to think about this anymore. Mind. Numbing.